Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial today about the impact of New York City raising the minimum wage over the past four years.
The editorial reports:
Over the past four years, the minimum wage for New York City restaurants that employ more than 10 workers went from $10.50 an hour to $15. That’s a whopping 43% increase. Next year, every restaurant, big and small, will have to pay their workers at least $15 an hour.
A big victory for workers, right? That’s how it’s depicted by the “Fight for $15” crowd. And, yes, if you held a full-time minimum-wage job over those years, your gross income would have gone up by $9,360.
But those massive wage hikes come at a painful cost that backers refuse to acknowledge. They kill jobs. Just like they’re doing right now in New York City.
In just the last three months of last year, 4,000 workers lost jobs at full-service restaurants, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show.
One of the problems here is a misunderstanding of the purpose of the minimum wage. A minimum-wage job should not be an ultimate goal. A minimum-wage job should be a way to enter into the workforce and learn some basic skills–dealing with people, being punctual, having manners, etc. Theoretically these basic skills will allow you to advance to a job that pays better than minimum wage.
The editorial continues:
Even during the Great Recession, restaurant workers didn’t suffer as much as they are now. In fact, over the course of the recession, which lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, the number of restaurant jobs in the city actually increased by 1,800.
It’s getting so bad that fast-food workers now want the city to protect them from getting fired without “just cause.”
Those who keep their jobs aren’t necessarily better off, either.
The Hospitality Alliance survey found that more than three quarters of New York restaurants cut worker hours in 2018 to offset that year’s wage hike. Seventy-five percent say they want to cut hours this year.
“Though the new regulations are intended to benefit employees, some restaurateurs and staffers say that take-home pay ends up being less due to fewer hours — or that employees face more work because there are fewer staffers per shift,” notes Tara Crowl in an article in New York Eater.
The results of a significant increase in the minimum wage in New York City are similar to the results of a significant increase in the minimum wage in Seattle and in Illinois. It seems to me that we need to stop making the same mistakes over and over again and take a good look at the results. Rather than increase the minimum wage, we should be encouraging people to learn the skills they need to get them into jobs that pay better than minimum wage. We should also realize that raising wages too high too fast will create unemployment–not wealth.